Yesterday Dan linked to the unusual update that Charlie Cook recently issued on 2010 races. As Ace notes, Cook seems to have decided to trust his gut more than his models, and says a loss of more than 20 seats is not at all unlikely.
"Many veteran Congressional election watchers, including Democratic ones, report an eerie sense of déjà vu, with a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats..."
"We believe it would be a mistake to underestimate the impact that this mood will have on Members of Congress of both parties when they return to Washington in September, if it persists through the end of the Congressional recess."
This is as good an opportunity as any to point out that the NRCC is continuing to line up strong candidates against all sorts of Democrats - even entrenched veterans and Democrat leaders. In many cases, the NRCC is finding credible candidates for swing districts where the incumbent hasn't been challenged in years. Consider these reports from just the last few days:
- Virginia state Representative Terry Kilgore may run against subcommittee chair Rick Boucher - who was long thought invulnerable - in a district that favored John McCain by 19 points.
- Seventeen-term incumbent Ike Skelton will face one of two strong challengers - in a seat with a +14 Republican edge.
- Businessman Randy Altschuler will run against incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop in a district rated even.
- County GOP chair Charles Lollar may run against Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a D+11 seat
I've spoken before about the good work being done by Pete Sessions and his team at the NRCC this cycle. They're getting good reviews from outside, impartial observers as well. By listing just 4 House seats, I'm not trying to give a lengthy or exhaustive list. This is just a reminder that even as people hit the beaches for vacation, or demonstrate at townhalls, the NRCC is continuing to line up solid candidates in seats around the country.
And this effort yields results. Rick Boucher, Steny Hoyer, and others don't yet know who they will face in 2010. But they know there's a good chance of a real challenge, and they have to consider that when they vote on health care, cap-and-trade, and other liberal priorities. A grizzled old hand like Ike Skelton might be more likely to retire, knowing he'll face a strong opponent in what looks like a tough year for Democrats. And of course, the best potential return is the prospect of a victory in 2010. And if the environment is favorable enough, and the NRCC recruits enough quality candidates, there could be a bumper crop.